We’re thinking that Big Red might be a good nickname for Ellsworth on riding days. He continues to improve and gains confidence each time we put the saddle on him. And, while we’re really proud of Big Red’s accomplishments, it looks like Bernard is his biggest fan.

Because we had the luxury of having my mom here to take pictures over the weekend, we discovered some things that may have otherwise been overlooked.

I was seriously shocked to see this picture. Because I was so focused on Ellsworth Big Red, I had no idea Bernard was back there sucking on the saddle pad.

It finally got to the point that we had to put Bernard out of the corral so we really could focus on Big Red.  Love you, Bernard.

Fergus stayed in the corral with Big Red to offer moral support and to receive butt scritches from Don.  

Big Red was quite pleased with and deserving of his carrot rewards…

…and the extra love, praise and attention he received.

We ended on a positive note (I asked him to walk and he walked, then asked him to stop and he stopped).

Of course he enjoyed a good brushing afterwards…

…and provided his signature contented sigh when his biggest fan returned to the corral.

After talking about this for several weeks, Ellsworth and I have reached an agreement. Our goal is for Ellsworth to be my trusty steed before summer’s end. I’ve been doing my research and I think we can do it.

A lot of my reading has been with The Donkey Companion, written by Sue Weaver. Sue says that, “Because they’re intelligent and affectionate, and they aim to please, everyday pleasure-riding donkeys are incredibly easy to train. They need not be sent to a trainer; owners can do the work themselves.”

Furthermore, (I find this fascinating) “They’re reliable; donkeys don’t put themselves or their riders in harm’s way. They rarely spook, they don’t bolt, they’re surefooted, and they won’t venture into danger of any kind. These traits make them superlative mounts for children, the physically challenged, and nervous adult riders of all kinds.”

One of my most daunting tasks will be navigating the world of tack and figuring out what types of riding gear fit donkeys. The first thing on our list is a training surcingle. 

For the next couple of weeks, we’ll be working on having Ellsworth lead at my side, back up when I ask him to, and stand patiently when he’s tied. I just know he’s going to do great.